North Cowichan’s council will likely have to consider a wide range of views on carbon credits during the ongoing review of its 5,000-hectare municipal forest reserve.
At the council meeting on June 2, Coun. Christopher Justice asked the municipality’s senior environment specialist Dr. Dave Preikshot his views on a letter to council that said “carbon credits are a failed approach to solving problems, they facilitate polluters to continue polluting instead of cleaning up their operations”.
Carbon credits allow companies and other organizations to compensate for their greenhouse gas emissions.
By paying someone else to either reduce their emissions or capture their carbon, like North Cowichan if it chooses to sell carbon credits from its municipal forest reserve, companies and organizations can compensate for their environmental footprint.
The municipality’s Carbon Project Feasibility Assessment, completed last year, concluded that initial estimates indicate that a carbon offset-project in the municipal forest reserve could provide an ongoing, stable revenue source for North Cowichan that would competitive with the current logging model.
Preikshot said there is a spectrum of opinions on the use of carbon sequestration in efforts to deal with climate change, and that one of the extreme views, like that of the letter writer, is that carbon credits just facilitate people and operations that want to continue emitting greenhouse gases.
“On the other end off the spectrum is the view that’s it’s useful to keep track of the total amount of carbon going in or out of the ground or into trees, and that degree of knowledge helps us have a better degree of management,” he said.
“Somewhere in between, the debate is over how much [carbon credits] you should be selling or using to offset greenhouse gas emissions. We’re discussing that range of options as part of our conversations on the municipal forest reserve and I expect that it will be part of our community discussions moving forward.”
Preikshot said the sentiment in the letter is not the majority view of people who account for carbon emissions and carbon offsets, “but it’s definitely part of the discussion”.
Mayor Al Siebring said that, to be fair, he recalls that Coun. Rob Douglas recently asked how council can be sure that if the municipality began selling carbon credits, they wouldn’t be bought by a company like Walmart so it could then drive its big trucks everywhere.
But Coun. Kate Marsh said under the current rules for selling carbon credits, the municipality would be able to choose who it sells them to.